Sunday, February 19, 2017
Exhibit Hall (Hynes Convention Center)
Liang Gong, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden
Background:Today, manufacturing industry is facing increasing demands of customized products. Companies need constant and efficient changes in manufacturing process to meet the challenges. However, a successful manufacturing process change is not easy to accomplish due to the fact that any change in the manufacturing system will affect various actors involved. Previous research has shown that active engagement of all involved actors in the planning phase improves the quality and success rate of the manufacturing process change outcome. The conventional supporting tools used mostly in this process such as documentation tools for text, numbers and static pictures typically requires an experienced user to be fully understood. Thus, some of the involved actors are not able to participate in the manufacturing process change on equal terms. Over the last decade, the advancement of virtual technologies has shown the potential to improve the quality and efficiency of the planning of MPCs. Specifically, 3D laser scanning technologies can produce realistic virtual representation of factory environment with rapid point cloud data capturing. Immersive experience with rich context in combination with e.g. the virtual reality head-mounted display could be provided, which is beneficial in the assessment and usable for several actors. Method: This study presents a novel supporting tool for the MPC design and planning, which incorporates point cloud data of real-world truck factories visualized using VR HMD technologies. It provides a collaborative and immersive environment for all involved actors to actively contribute in the MPC process. Tests and interviews have been conducted with various actors from industry for evaluation and validation of the proposed tool and its findings. The test data were analyzed and discussed with regard to the benefits and problems found as well as potential for future research studies and development. Results: It is clear that a majority of the test persons saw benefits from the system, for the various stakeholders. Most benefit was recognized to the user, in other words the engineers and the factory personnel who would use it to develop better upgrades. While no one disagreed strongly about the benefits of the system, one was not sure about clear benefits to his company. For the qualitative data analysis, some reoccurring themes are positive benefits such as easy to use, visually representative of the real factory. Some obstacles that were detected was dizziness, disorientation. Conclusions: The study shows that by incorporating 3D scanning technology in the development of virtual manufacturing tools could help involve various actors in process, thus beneficial for the companies to have better decision-making quality. However, the potential of the VR tool is constrained by the current computing power. More importantly, further studies need to be conducted on verified and validated frameworks for better supporting the integration.